Roots of MEVIS

Development of the Institute (1995-2008)

The current Fraunhofer MEVIS institute was founded on the initiative of mathematician Prof. Dr. Heinz-Otto Peitgen in August 1995 as MeVis – Center for Medical Diagnostic Systems and Visualization, a non-profit limited liability company (gGmbH) at the University of Bremen. To expand the institute, MeVis received yearly funding from the State of Bremen. Prof. Peitgen was appointed Executive Director of MeVis, and an international Scientific Advisory Board oversaw research. In 2006, the institute was renamed MeVis Research GmbH, Center for Medical Image Computing.

Since 1997, MeVis Research has produced several legally and financially independent spin-offs that were consolidated in 2007 into MeVis Medical Solutions AG, a publicly traded company that employs about 140 people today. Aside from a few temporary declines in staff due to changes in personnel caused by the founding of a new company, the number of employee steadily increased between the founding in August 1995 and integration into the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in January 2009. During this time, the number of employees has increased from 10 to 51 full-time positions.

Within a period of 13 years, MeVis evolved from a small group of visionary people into an internationally recognized R&D center for medical image computing. Embedded in a worldwide network of clinical and academic partners, MeVis has taken a pioneering role in developing real-world software solutions for image-supported early detection, diagnosis, and therapy. From the outset, the conceptual orientation of the institute was guided by a strong engagement with medical needs and clinical processes. Two outstanding examples for groundbreaking work with clinical impact are MeVis‘ achievements in breast cancer screening and liver surgery planning. A detailed description of the early phase of MeVis can be found in the German report MeVis – The First Ten Years.

The Fraunhofer Institute MEVIS

On January 1, 2009, MeVis Research was incorporated into the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and renamed Fraunhofer MEVIS, Institute for Medical Image Computing (Institut für Bildgestützte Medizin). Prof. Dr. Heinz-Otto Peitgen was appointed Institute Director. The Advisory Board (Kuratorium) of Fraunhofer MEVIS convened on June 4, 2009, headed by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Erich R. Reinhardt, then the head of medical technology on the board of Siemens AG. Since early 2009, Fraunhofer MEVIS has been a member of the Fraunhofer Group for Information and Communication Technology (Fraunhofer-Verbund IUK).

The Fraunhofer MEVIS Project Group for Image Registration was established under the direction of mathematician Prof. Dr. Bernd Fischer at the University of Lübeck in April 2010. The internationally renowned project group addresses medical image registration, a key skill in medical image computing, in close cooperation with the Institute of Mathematics and Image Computing (MIC) at the University of Lübeck. In July 2013, Prof. Dr. Bernd Fischer passed away following a short, severe illness. The director of the MIC, Prof. Dr. Jan Modersitzki, was appointed director of the project group in October 2014.

In October 2012, MEVIS founder Prof. Peitgen retired after heading the institute for 17 years and his former deputy Prof. Dr. Horst K. Hahn succeeded as Interim Institute Director. From May 2014, the institute was jointly headed by Prof. Hahn and Prof. Ron Kikinis, MD. As of March 2020, Prof. Kikinis was appointed by Harvard Medical School as “B. Leonard Holman Endowed Professor of Radiology”. Since then, Prof. Hahn has been the sole director of the institute with his deputies Prof. Dr. Matthias Günther and Prof. Dr. Tobias Preusser. In June 2014, Prof. Dr. Gabor Székely from ETH Zurich was elected new chairman of the Fraunhofer MEVIS Advisory Board and Walter Märzendorfer from Siemens Healthcare its vice chairman. Since June 2018, Prof. Dr. Hans Maier (BGM Associates, Berlin) is elected chairman of the Fraunhofer MEVIS Advisory Board.

During the transitional phase of five years, the parent institute in Bremen and the project group in Lübeck have received funding from the States of Bremen and Schleswig-Holstein and have been co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The institute in Bremen and the project group in Lübeck were positively evaluated by international review boards in April 2013 and 2014, respectively, and joined the regular basic funding of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Since July 2015, the former project group in Lübeck is part of the mother institute in Bremen. In April 2017, Fraunhofer MEVIS opened a new site in Berlin and in 2018, a strategic cooperation with the RWTH Aachen was established.

In September 2018, the construction of an own institute building for Fraunhofer MEVIS has started, funded in equal parts by the Federal Republic of Germany, the Federal State of Bremen, and the European Commission (ERDF). The building located on the campus of the University Bremen was completed in May 2021 and Fraunhofer MEVIS moved in.

On January 1, 2019, exactly ten years after becoming a part of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Fraunhofer Institute for Medical Image Computing became the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Medicine. The new name reflects the Institute’s substantially expanded research spectrum and the ambition to drive the transformation of tomorrow's digital, integrated precision medicine through systematic computer support.